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Profile: justpassingthrough
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User Name: justpassingthrough
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Joined: Thursday, April 9, 2009
Last Visit: Thursday, April 30, 2009 2:58:48 AM
Number of Posts: 6
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  Last 10 Posts
Topic: Counterintuitive computing terms
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 3:24:45 AM
This phenomenon (the irony of having to click on START to initiate shutdown) is not limited to computer technology. It is as wide, and probably as old, as language itself. Remember: We drive on a parkway, and park on a driveway. And on a restuarant menu they list "jumbo shrimp". And, as probably everyone has heard at least once in their lives, a guinea pig is neither a pig, nor from Guinea. Such instances abound. But, returning strictly to the topic, I guess the two most important instances are 1) the fact that the term "kilo" is imported from ordinary language into computer technical language with a (slightly) different meaning, and 2) the fact that spaces count as characters (unlike in ordinary language, such as in the construction of anagrams, e.g., "DORMITORY" and "DIRTY ROOM" are considered to consist of EXACTLY the same characters).

The irony of having to click on START to initiate shutdown can be expressed in a more enlightening way: In this environment, START has antymonous meanings. When expressed this way, the situation loses much of its mystery, or at least its shock value, because it is certainly not without precedent. We already have such situations in ordinary language: words that act in both directions - words like "comfortable" and "curious". ("I am comfortable in this comfortable chair.", and "I am curious what that curious man wants.") Even the word "read" is used this way. ("OK, I will read the fine print to you. It reads as follows...") And then there's also "sanction" (perhaps the best example of this phenomenon) and "consult". Then there's also the tragic nearly antynomous meanings of "OK", which was the immediate cause of the worst airplane accident in history, which occurred in the Canary Islands in 1977. The two meanings of "OK" are "I heard you.", and "I give my approval to do that." When the pilot told the tower that the plane was ready to take off, the tower answered "OK", intending to mean "I heard you.", but the pilot took it to mean "I give my approval to do that.", and the plane promptly crashed into another plane, causing nearly 600 deaths.

And just one more example: If you knew nothing about chess, and you heard of the ranks of "international master" and "grandmaster", which would you think is the higher rank? International master, right? But in fact it is grandmaster. (I don't know didly, as Joe Bob would say, about chess, but I read that somewhere.)

Anyway, if I were going to really dig into this topic more, which I'm not, as I'm just passing through, I would next consult the charming little book JARGON WATCH published by the people at WIRED magazine. If I remember correctly, this little book deals more with the flip-side of this topic, namely, extremely apropos terminology, such as a "nibble" being, if I remember correctly, "half a byte", but it could serve to jog your memory for the kind of hits you are looking for. Happy reading!
Topic: Juxtaposition
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 12:25:16 AM
Jen estas du ekzemploj:
quantum leap
intelligence quotient
Topic: Looking for the Opposite of a LOOK ON
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 5:42:00 PM
Something like "join in" might be acceptable as the opposite, as in "Are you going to join in? - or just look on."
Topic: interesting spelling tidbits
Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2009 10:22:43 PM
Why not just first read Mencken's The American Language?
Topic: How and why are these sentences different?
Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2009 5:27:17 PM
Mi konsentas kun fred, sed indas elmontri, ke la dua estas ankaux ambigua: povas esti "I" kiu estis forkuranta aux leganta. Cxi tiu ambigueco ne okazas en Esperanto: la signifo antauxsupozata de fred estas "Mi vidis lin forkurantan." kaj "Mi vidis sxin legantan la noton.", sed la alia signifo estas "Mi vidis lin forkurante." kaj "Mi vidis sxin legante la noton."
Topic: Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces
Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2009 5:17:36 PM
Perhaps the correct perspective is the one that C.S. Lewis gave regarding Shakespeare: Those who have never read Shakespeare can be forgiven, but those who have read Shakespeare ONLY ONCE cannot.